January 27, 2005: NASA is returning to the Moon--not just robots, but people. In the decades ahead we can expect to see habitats, greenhouses and power stations up there. Astronauts will be out among the moondust and craters, exploring, prospecting, building.
Last week, though, there were no humans walking around on the Moon.
On January 20th, 2005, a giant sunspot named "NOAA 720" exploded. The blast sparked an X-class solar flare, the most powerful kind, and hurled a billion-ton cloud of electrified gas (a "coronal mass ejection") into space. Solar protons accelerated to nearly light speed by the explosion reached the Earth-Moon system minutes after the flare--the beginning of a days-long "proton storm."
Here on Earth, no one suffered. Our planet's thick atmosphere and magnetic field protects us from protons and other forms of solar radiation. In fact, the storm was good. When the plodding coronal mass ejection arrived 36 hours later and hit Earth's magnetic field, sky watchers in Europe saw the brightest and prettiest auroras in years: gallery.
The Moon is a different story.
"The Moon is totally exposed to solar flares," explains solar physicist David Hathaway of the Marshall Space Flight Center. "It has no atmosphere or magnetic field to deflect radiation." Protons rushing at the Moon simply hit the ground--or whoever might be walking around outside.
The Jan. 20th proton storm was by some measures the biggest since 1989. It was particularly rich in high-speed protons packing more than 100 million electron volts (100 MeV) of energy. Such protons can burrow through 11 centimeters of water. A thin-skinned spacesuit would have offered little resistance. [more]gematria
AQ 76 = NOAA 720 = OBEAH = ADSFA = MIND = SEEK = BLUE = LINE = NAGHA = RAPE = ROBE = WAY = WEAK
AQ 382 = CORONAL MASS EJECTION = STOOPING STARLIGHT
AQ 282 = PROTON STORM = (DIS)SIMULATION = APOCALYPSE NOW = HYACINTH PILLAR = INTELLIGENTSIA = NON-REFERENTIAL = SAPPHIRE STONE = UNITED NATIONS
AQ 397 = SICKENING SOLAR FLARES = ANTIKYTHERA MECHANISM = DIALECTICAL MATERIALISM = ENLIGHTENED ISOLATION = ONE CYTOCHROME GENE: COI